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THE CARBON FOOTPRINT: RENOVATION VS. NEW BUILD

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  • Considering the carbon footprint between renovating vs. new build its been proven that renovating your home has a substantially lower carbon footprint than new construction. Not only can renovation be cost efficient but also it is the greenest way to build. The National Trust for Historic Preservation states that, “the greenest building may be the one you already own” after they published the article “The Greenest building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse.” The report uses the Life Cycle Analysis to compare the impacts of building reuse and renovation vs. new construction. They study four different cities & climate zones across the U.S. Within these studies they look over four environmental impact categories including climate change, human health, ecosystem quality and resource lessening. The benefits of renovating outweigh the benefits of constructing an energy efficient new build.
  • Demolition of existing building results in the highest carbon footprint over renovating and new builds. An existing building has a great amount of CO2 locked into it; keeping in mind the energy used to build the existing bones from materials to transport. When it undergoes demolition those CO2 emissions are lost. Not only are they gone but then arises the amount of energy used to dispose of the debris. On top of that, demolition usually occurs for new build, which will then create its own CO2 emissions. Robert Shipley quotes “Every brick in building required the burning of fossil fuel in its manufacture, and every piece of lumber was cut and transported using energy. As long as the building stands, that energy is there, serving a useful purpose. Trash a building and you trash its embodied energy too.”
  • The advantage of building new is that it has come far with materials in the last decade. Opting for reused, recycled, energy star systems, low toxic and of course locally sourced materials where they can. During deconstruction reclaiming, recycling and donating materials creates a zero energy or CO2 emissions. The luxury of building new is preferred and has many drawn in; the options are endless with location, size etc. If you’re going to build new, build green.

Our world is changing and we’ve got to make the change with it.

As always keep our environments safe and clean,

Eileen Gould

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